Ilorin city was founded in the late 18th century by Laderin, a Yoruba man, the great-grandfather of Afonja. He was succeeded by his son, Pasin, a powerful warrior who became a threat and target to Basorun Gaha because of his rising profile.
He was driven into exile and killed. Alagbin, his son was made King. After the death of Alagbin, his son, Afonja, took over. These were the only four Yoruba kings in Ilorin.
Ilorin became the capital of a kingdom that was a vassal state of the Oyo empire.
Oyo’s commander at Ilorin, Kakanfo (Field Marshal) Afonja, led a rebellion in 1817 that destroyed the unity of the empire.
Afonja of Ilorin was the “Are-Ona-Kakanfo”, or chief military leader, of the Oyo Empire.
Afonja, was the powerful warrior who is the chief of Ilorin, and was at loggerheads with Alaafin Aole, the emperor of the Oyo Empire to which Ilorin belongs. Unfortunately, the clashes between these two men accelerated the beginning of the end of the empire.
Afonja who became so powerful, arrogant and full of himself was betrayed by his men and was subsequently killed and burnt to ashes. Alimi, the Fulani priest, then took over leadership at Ilorin.
Afonja, unfortunately would be remembered as the Kakanfo who foreclosed the dismemberment of the Yoruba country. However, Professor Ade Ajaye argued that Alimi never arrived Ilorin until 1820s, when Oyo was already declining. Accounts of Afonja are found in the writings of Samuel Ajayi Crowther and Samuel Johnson.
Ilorin came under the rulership of Fulanis who were invited as friends and allies, but they were more astute than the Yorubas. They studied their weaknesses and misrule. According to Samuel Johnson (1921) “Their more generous treatment of fallen foes and artful method of conciliating a power they could not openly crush, marked them out as a superior people in the art of government.”
These are historical events that are less than 300 years…
The Yorubas know their boundaries as a tribe.
They are not a tribe who want to forcefully claim areas whose people don’t conference with them.
The Yoruba are not a tribe constantly in search of validation.
There have been so much nonsense many have been writing about the proposed Ilorin cultural festival, ISESE. Many tweeting and posting denigrating the Yoruba and Wole Soyinka.
The people of Ilorin will settle their differences the way they know how, the Yoruba elders will sort the issue out, off the pages of Newspapers.
Not even Fulanis would say that Ilorin is a northern city because they know the truth. Only those that deny historical facts, and a lackey like Lateef O Aremu would express this folly aloud!
The Word Ilorin is a Yoruba word. The old Oyo empire extended to Kwara north.
Their are many Lateef O Aremu in Ilorin, they seem to be the remaining living lackeys of the Fulanis. Their tie to the Fulanis is the Islamic religion and because of that, they will deny anything, even their heritage!
Their are towns in Kwara state where they have Obas, where they have Ifa and worship traditional religion.
There is no other language in Ilorin outside Yoruba, even though the royal family speak both Yoruba and Fulani languages.
The town Badagry is characterised mainly by non Yoruba people. It was a confluence of so many cultures, some came from outside Nigeria to settle, but the Palace of Babagry had a very strong link with Ile Ife. What this means is that a town and the Palace may not share the same history. What can be established in Ilorin is that the Palace of Emir has a very strong link with the North but not the town, Ilorin.
The truth is, no empire/kingdom stands for ever! The loss of Ilorin kingdom to the Fulani emirate is not the first in history and will not be the last!
Sometime in the future some strongman may try to unite all the disparate and dispersed Yoruba people around Africa under one umbrella. It will lead to conflict but it may be achieved.
The Yoruba people of Ilorin have started talking about an Oba in Ilorin. When this Sulu Gambari dies, there may be both an Oba of Ilorin and an Emir of Ilorin at the same time, and the Yoruba, who are in the overwhelming majority, may start recognising the Oba more than the Emir. There may be so much strong internal and external opposition to this, but it is achievable.
For those that have mixed up and have deep interactions with the people of Ilorin, they report that they are serious about having an Oba in Ilorin.
They plan to start with having an Oba in his own palace different from the Emir of Ilorin’s palace, then the whole Yoruba population of Ilorin will start deferring to the Oba rather than the Emir. It will be gradual. But with an Oba and Emir at the same time, over a generation, the reality will be that Ilorin has an Oba rather than an Emir.
At the beginning, they don’t even care if the Oba is Yoruba or Fulani, but that title has to change first of all. Everything changes from there.
That the above is going to manifest is not in question, what is, is how soon will it be before an Oba is installed in Ilorin.
If actions like that of Emir Sulu Gambari in banning the Isese festival, the bigotry, the arrogance of the usurpers is anything to go by, it can only accelerate this future reality of Yoruba taking back the emirate of Ilorin and replacing it with the Yoruba traditional Obaship/Monachy.
AGAIN, it is not about IF, it is about WHEN!
Let noone be deceived, to this writer and millions more, Ilorin is a Yoruba city that belongs to Southwest Nigeria, PERIOD! Therefore, the Emir of Ilorin should live and let the indigenes live and worship whoever they want to worship, and celebrate whoever they wish to celebrate, it is their city, it is their culture and their tradition.
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